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setting goals

4 Steps to Successfully Setting Goals

How many of us have lost countless hours/days/years of productivity to a lack of direction and non-clearly defined goals?  Goal setting is both an art and a science, and the people that do it well follow certain practices.  First thing is first in goal setting.  Define what success looks like to you.

Define your long term goals

How do you envision your life and your career in the future?  Do these possible visions line up with your personal values and are they plausible?  Have you given the future much thought at all?  First, define what a successful life and career may look like to you, and what it will take to get there. Then, write your goals down and begin to think of the steps it may take to achieve that  goal. Do you want to make a big career change?  Do you need education or certifications to move into the field?  Brain storm on what you want to achieve and the steps you may need to take to get there.

Your short term goals need to contribute to the big picture goals

Make a plan with your long term goals in mind.  Certain things may appear to be good short-term things to work towards, like trying to get a promotion in your current company,  or accepting a new job because of a higher salary, but are these steps going to fit with the overall long-term career goals you have set for yourself?  Or will it derail or postpone your long term plans?

All goals should be clearly defined using the SMART method.

Is it Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-oriented, and Time Bound?  If it doesn’t meet these criteria then you don’t have a “goal” you have a “wish”.  Define your goals specifically, make them measurable, and set a time span to when you hope to achieve them by.  This could be your five year plan, or your two year plan, but make sure you can measure your progress as you move forward.

Don’t let failures deter you from setting new goals

Don’t. Give. Up.  You aren’t going to succeed at every goal you set, but you should keep setting goals and learning from what didn’t work previously.   Next time, you may need to be more realistic in your goal setting to be able to achieve the goal.  You should never set a goal so high that it is impossible for you to achieve, but you should never make one so easy that it doesn’t challenge you to move forward.

Goal setting has a lot of benefits that you can reap.  It can help you to see your path moving forward clearly, it can challenge you,  motivate you, and help to you be more creative with your short term goals.

The mistakes of poorly defined goals can wreak havoc on the plans of even the most motivated people.  Don’t get discouraged, get specific.  Define your goals, begin with the end in mind, follow the SMART method, take milestone steps towards this goal, measure your success, and watch your confidence and motivation grow.


What is your method of goal setting?  How do you define a successful goal?



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